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So you decided to breastfeed and expected it to be a natural and easy way moms feed their babies. After all, isn’t breastmilk free and plentiful?
Not for everyone.
Often, moms are desperately looking for ways to increase milk supply because, for some reason, breastfeeding isn’t going as expected.
After your milk came in and you survived the first crucial week with baby, breastfeeding did not seem to get easier.
One of the reasons why moms and babies are struggling with nursing is because of a low milk supply.
I have struggled for weeks with my first baby, but my experience has helped to do much better with the other two.
In this post, I will show you how to increase your milk supply fast so breastfeeding can become a truly natural, smooth experience for you.
8 Proven Tips To Increase Milk Supply Fast
Resting and sleeping, are hugely underestimated parts of a plentiful milk supply. In our culture, moms get back to normal just days after their babies are born and some are even back to work before the first 6 weeks are over.
No wonder so many of us suffer from low milk supply and stressful breastfeeding.
In order for your body to be able to make enough milk, it needs rest. As in “lying in bed, doing nothing” rest.
Does that sound weird? Yeah, it did for me too at first.
Isn’t it the strong and cool thing to bounce back fast and be super-mom?
Tons of moms experience say no. And your doctor probably said heck no.
The postpartum recovery period is 6 weeks for a reason. Approximately, that is how long it takes for your body to go back to the pre-pregnancy state. (Unfortunately, this mainly means on the inside, not the belly pooch)
Those first 6 weeks are crucial for physical and mental recovery and also play the main role in establishing your milk supply.
True rest means you relax and you are only able to do that if you accept and understand the absolute necessity behind it.
I got a nasty uterine infection and struggled with low milk supply for weeks because I did too much too soon.
To be fair, I had other reasons why my milk supply was so low, but not resting was definitely a part. How do I know this?
When my first baby was 9 months old, I went back to my home country to visit my family. My mom took care of me for 5 weeks, I didn’t have to clean or cook and I just had fun with my baby.
I was in absolute shock that for the entire time, I had more milk than I ever had before and looking back, I had more milk than ever during her 2 years of breastfeeding.
I was relaxed, rested and happy.
You might be rolling your eyes, thinking, how am I supposed to do that without a vacation?
You make it happen, mama.
You figure out a way to let people know you need rest and sleep. If you believe in it and stand up for yourself, who is going to stand in your way?
You fight for it. You ask for it. You pay for it.
But you get that rest.
2. Keep ’em Empty
One of the reasons why breastfeeding is considered so easy and natural is because your body responds to the very process you go through physically and emotionally during pregnancy and birth.
Initially, hormones are responsible for milk production and everybody starts producing milk whether they choose to breastfeed or not.
The difference is in keeping up that milk production. Your body makes milk based on demand and supply after the initial hormonal kick-start so the more you empty it, the more often the breasts fill up.
This process lets your body know, you have a high demand, so guess what? There will be higher supply.
This is the theory and you can read a more in-depth explanation of how milk is made in Kelly Mom’s article.
So what can you do to keep your breasts empty and therefore stimulate more milk production?
Nurse a lot. A ton.
Many suggest taking a nursing vacation so all you focus on is you and your baby.
It can be beneficial on many levels:
- you satisfy your needs for rest and good nutrition
- you relax and feel happy by snuggling with your baby
- you bond with your baby so you get to know her cues and feeding habits better
- you keep your breasts emptied by nursings near constantly.
3. Know The Technique
Some moms and babies have a problem with the technique of breastfeeding itself, resulting in an improper latch and inefficient nursing.
These cause incomplete emptying of the breasts and send the wrong signal to your body that’s all the milk needed.
A baby may act too sleepy to actually care to learn how to latch and nurse efficiently. For the longest time, my firstborn only opened her mouth up just a tiny bit so there was no way I could make her latch properly.
It was very frustrating to both of us.
Some moms (including me) have to resort to nipple shields due to the pain what nursing causes initially. Nipple shields may also reduce the efficiency of a nursing baby, therefore, resulting in non-complete emptying.
When I was a first-time mom, it has taken me 6 weeks before I was able to nurse without excruciating pain and my baby started gaining weight well.
I did have a very stubborn dedication to making this work, but I could not have done it without family support and my lactation nurse’s help.
I can’t stress it enough, there is almost nothing that can stop you from making breastfeeding work if you are committed. Yes, there are instances when it just can’t be done or only partially can be done.
But we tend to give up too soon without exhausting every resource available and we think we need to handle it alone.
You don’t. You just can’t.
Read more about what to do when you face breastfeeding problems in this article from Kelly Mom.
When nursing itself doesn’t go well, pumping is a great option to satisfy the need to empty the breasts as much as possible.
Of course, if you want to store milk for when you return to work, pumping several times a day is also necessary to get as much milk stored as possible.
Unless you want to pump exclusively for the whole time you breastfeed, the best method is to nurse and then pump every time you feed your baby.
Pumping not only empties your breasts completely but also stimulates milk production through “artificially” telling your body that “the demand is high, so make more milk!”
Make sure to get a high-quality electric pump and the right fitting shield so you get the best results with the least effort. (That just sounded ridiculous. Whoever thought of pumping as effortless? Not me!)
5. Eat Well And Drink A Ton
I am sure you heard this enough already during pregnancy and postpartum, but when it comes to increasing your milk supply fast, eating enough and eating certain foods is key.
Your body was designed to make milk but it needs fuel. One reason why nursing mothers are notoriously ravenous is that their body tells them to eat so there is plenty of milk.
What you eat matters, not just how frequently. During the first 2 months, you should not worry about dieting and losing weight. That is the prime time for establishing your milk supply and you don’t need to add extra stress.
So eat when you’re hungry and snack even when you aren’t starving. Keep a little stash of trail mix or fruit on your nightstand or the table beside your nursing chair and remind yourself to snack while you nurse.
It’s not uncommon to feel hungry during the middle of the night sessions, and you will be happy you prepped ahead.
Preparation is key to having nutritious foods on hand. You may ask friends and family to bring food or cut up fresh fruits and veggies for you. Or, if you have the chance, prepare these yummy freezer meals in advance.
Making a habit of carrying a water bottle throughout the day will ensure you drink enough. A nursing mom needs waaaaay more water than you’d think.
Focus on eating whole grains and proteins besides fruits and veggies, and don’t skimp on adding olive oil, dairy and nuts to your diet as well.
Even if you’re not a cook, you can pay attention to ordering food from places that use fresh ingredients or make sandwiches and salads that fit these guidelines.
And for the full happiness and enjoyment of life, don’t be afraid to indulge in less nutritious foods too, from time to time. Your sanity will thank you.
6. Eat These Special Foods
Beyond the regular “healthy and balanced diet” recommendations, there are certain foods that boost milk supply naturally. Of course, they aren’t going to work a miracle, but every little bit helps when struggling with milk production.
So give the following foods special attention:
- Old Fashion Oats
- Brewer’s Yeast
- Leafy Greens
For an extensive list of foods, read more in this article.
7. Take A Supplement
I hear it everywhere that taking actual medication to increase milk supply is highly discouraged and only rarely necessary, so make sure to talk to your doctor about it.
But many lactation consultants and doctors nowadays recommend a galactagogue supplement. Galactagogue means “milk increasing, milk boosting”.
To name a few:
- Goat’s rue
- Milk thistle
While, according to some articles, research does not suggest the effectiveness of such supplements, my personal experience tells me a different story.
I have taken fenugreek and was amazed at the results.
When you’re desperate and were given the green light from a doctor to use such supplements with relative safety, it is worth giving them a chance and seeing for yourself.
Don’t forget to drink even more when taking these supplements because water is necessary to efficiently increase milk supply.
Based on the information you received here and elsewhere, evaluate whether you are indeed suffering from low milk supply.
Your milk supply is only considered problematically low, if your baby is not gaining weight well or if you are trying to build up a milk storage stash and can’t seem to get ahead.
High milk supply has nothing to do with how “full” you feel, whether you feel a strong let-down or not, or how much you fill up the bottle after pumping. Sure, they can be indicators, but they are not the only indicators.
Don’t get caught up in measuring ounces of pumped milk, wondering if you have enough.
Understand that you will have differing amounts of milk depending on the time of day. Your body is amazing like that.
You’ll always have the most milk in the morning and less in the afternoon, but here’s the catch. The afternoon/evening milk is a whole lot fattier than the morning milk, ensuring your little one gets super high calories.
Understanding what goes into milk production is key to determining why your supply may be low and how to increase your milk supply fast.
I wish you good luck on this not-so-easy journey. Remember, you are not alone and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for support.
Come back and let me know what has helped you increase your milk supply fast!
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